People | Mission & Goals

About: People

Irina Gendelman | Tom Dobrowolsky | Giorgia Aiello | Paul Ford

Irina Gendelman...

...lived in the former Soviet Union before immigrating to the United States. Her M.A. thesis, Communication Outlaws: Graffiti Control in Public Space, was her first major academic exploration of the relationship between communication and urban space. Currently, she is interested in what material elements of urban communication can teach us about cultural values and beliefs about race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and social class. She is also interested in community building, public scholarship and creating spaces for public dialogue.

In 1992, Irina founded and continues to work with a community mural group, CROW. During this time, she organized and directed over a dozen community mural projects. The last mural, Total Projection Action, took place on November 1, 2004 in the form of interactive digital projections in the UW’s red square (on the walls of Kane Hall). Students were invited to take part in a non-partisan conversation about politics one day before the U.S. elections. On September 11, 2004, together with Giorgia Aiello, she organized the September 11 Mural at the Seattle Central Library. The mural was based around four themes – War and Peace, America, Patriotism and 9/11. Her goal of facilitating community murals has been to develop collaborative and creative projects that engage the public in a conversation about important topics.


Tom Dobrowolsky...

... received an MLIS from the University of Washington's Information School. His Master's thesis research consisted of an ethnographic study of the information behaviors and cultural identity of Seattle's Polish community. Additionally, he has nurtured interests in architecture, historic preservation, urban planning, and human and cultural geography. Tom currently works in the UW Library's Special Collections division processing and researching archival photograph collections. Rounding out Tom's intellectual and professional interests are radio production and broadcasting, study of radio history as it relates to new media , and oral histories.

Although forever a native and patriotic Chicagoan, Tom has fully accepted his adopted Seattle home. In his spare time, he enjoys taking frivolous road trips -- having visited 43 states and 6 provinces. These trips have yielded an absurd collection of photographs, ephemera, and journal writing. He builds Art Cars and found-object, assemblage pieces that some have called "art". After graduation, Tom plans to take a year "sabbatical" before diving back into school for PhD study in Geography.


Giorgia Aiello... a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Her main teaching and research interests are visual analysis, visual ethnography, collective identity formation through visual imagery and critical cultural approaches to representation, technology and cyberculture. She is currently organizing an interdisciplinary Visual Studies research group at the UW. Giorgia received her Master’s in Communication Studies (Scienze della Comunicazione) from the University of Bologna, Italy. Her thesis – titled “The Aesthetics of Emptiness and Time in the Cinema of Ozu Yasujiro and Kurosawa Akira” – focused on film aesthetics and theories of visual perception and visual communication.

Last year, Giorgia was awarded with the University of Washington’s Huckabay Teaching Fellowship to design a new undergraduate course titled “Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Visual Communication”. She will teach this course through the Department of Communication in the fall. Giorgia is also a photographer. Among her most recent projects are documentary photographs of old-style Italian barbershops and the documentation of Iole Alessandrini and Jürg Koch installation and performance work “Suggested Reading: Untitled”. In addition, last year Giorgia worked with teenage photographers from Youth in Focus on the documentation of the Seattle Central Library’s political community mural that she and Irina Gendelman organized as part of the September Project. You can find more information about Giorgia Aiello on her personal website.


Paul Ford...

...does instructional support and design work for the University of Washington's Department of Communication. He came to Seattle in 1999 as a graduate student in the Department of Speech Communication and has been a fan of the city's pop and underground visual cultures ever since. You can check out his professional projects here and recreational projects here .

contact: [email protected]


Project Leaders

Irina Gendelman [email protected]
Tom Dobrowolsky [email protected]
Giorgia Aiello [email protected]

or E-mail us all at once at Urban Archives


Digital Collections
CHID 270 C
Rome Program (Communication)
LA 362/590B

Video Graffitti - "Total Projection" 11.01.04

Photo: Giorgia Aiello. Total Projection Action on Nov.1, 2004. The night before elections, students were invited to write on overheads and type on laptops. Their political messages were projected onto Kane Hall walls.